International Space Station leak caused by drill Russians say

Nov 12, 2018

Days after the International Space Station literally sprang a leak and was patched up, reports from Russia said it was likely at the hands of their own personnel.

Neither a motive nor a culprit was identified, yet an act of sabotage or foul play was not being ruled out. There were other explanations, however; it is likely that the damage was caused on Earth during manufacturing, before the compartment was brought up into space.

The leak was caused by a drill. (©NASA)

Russian space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin said the hole, a micro fracture measuring 2 millimeters in width, was caused by a drill, and they were investigating the possible causes.

“What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?” Rogozin asked. “We are checking into the Earth version, but there is another version that we do not rule out, and that is deliberate interference in space.”

Rogozin said the drill was held by a wavering hand, and apparently there were several attempts, indicated by markings on the bulkhead.

Russian MP and former cosmonaut Maxim Surayev raised the possibility that a mentally unstable cosmonaut might have caused the leak in order to prompt an early return home, “We are all human, and anyone might want to go home, but this method is really low. If a cosmonaut pulled this strange stunt—and that can’t be ruled out—it’s really bad.”


However, Alexander Zalinkalov, a former space engineer, said that drilling a hole in zero-gravity in that particular part of the spacecraft would have been nearly impossible, and that it would have been pointless to do so, since that compartment was not used for bringing the cosmonauts home anyway.

Although the leak was not life-threatening, it did cause a drop in cabin pressure, as the ISS ground crew noted. Eventually, the leak was mended with a special type of epoxy, which caused the pressure to return to normal.

Soyuz spacecraft docked on the International Space Station. (©NASA)
“A spacewalk for the purposes of repairs won’t be required. If an air leak goes from the inside into outer space, then it is better to install a plate precisely from the inside,” Rogozin told TASS news agency. “Owing to the pressure factor, it will be fastened better.”

It was first suspected that a micrometeoroid caused the damage. Even a tiny pebble the size of a paint chip could have gone through hardened metal, since it could travel at speeds of 25–30 miles per hour.

Although the emergency was resolved, they are still currently trying to identify a culprit.


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